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Doors at 7:30 | Show at 8
There’s nothing scarier than being honest with yourself. For singer/songwriter Al Olender, facing her fear of the truth has been a cleansing, often cathartic process that’s led to the kind of revelations she had previously thought unobtainable. On her debut full-length album Easy Crier, the Upstate New York based artist asks: what happens if we vow to never tell a lie, ever again? Charting the daunting territories of staring your demons right in the face and prodding at the ugly parts of your reflection.
The catalyst for this renewed outlook stems from the sudden loss of her older brother. As a huge supporter of Olender’s musical talents from the very beginning, he would often invite his friends over and encourage a then-teenage Olender to play her “angsty love songs” for them. “Everything that I do musically revolves around my brother,” she says. “It’s like every single thing I do in my life – my brother is so much in the front of my mind.” Olender recorded at The Church in Harlemville, NY, entrusting the skills of producer and engineer James Felice (Felice Brothers). Felice also lent his skills on keyboard, accordion and piano, with Jesske Hume (bass/synths), William Lawrence (drums/guitar), Ian Felice (guitar), and Alejandro Leon (bass) also contributing. The album’s sonic universe sees delicate keys dance alongside acoustic plucks, later welcoming brooding strings and lush, expansive harmonies. It’s these kinds of arrangements that perfectly capture the sonic personality of Easy Crier: it’s both tender and invigorating, soothing yet anthemic. Describing the arrangements as a “conversation with friends,” it’s a testament to what can happen when you surround yourself with those who totally, and willingly, understand your artistic vision.
Anika – the project of Berlin-based musician Annika Henderson who is also a founding member of Exploded View – announces Change, her first new album in over a decade, and shares the “Change” video directed by Sven Gutjahr who also directed the video for recent single “Finger Pies.” The follow-up to cult favorite Anika (2010), Change is beautifully fraught. The intimacy of its creation and a palpable sense of global anxiety are seemingly baked into the album’s DNA. Spread across nine tracks, the central feeling of the record is one of heightened frustration buoyed by guarded optimism. The songs offer skittering, austere electronic backdrops reminiscent of classic Broadcast records or Hi Scores-era Boards of Canada, playing them against Anika’s remarkable voice—Nico-esque, beautifully plaintive, and—in regards to the record’s subject matter—totally resolute.
Having worked collaboratively in the past with the likes of BEAK> and Exploded View, Change was ultimately the product of necessity. After recording the initial ideas by herself at Berlin’s Klangbild Studios, Anika was joined by Exploded View’s Martin Thulin, who co-produced the album and played some live drums and bass. “This album had been planned for a little while and the circumstances of its inception were quite different to what had been expected,” says Anika. “This colored the album quite significantly. The lyrics were all written there on the spot. It’s a vomit of emotions, anxieties, empowerment, and of thoughts like—How can this go on? How can we go on?” Recorded at a time when literally everyone in the world was being forced to take stock, rethink, and reimagine their own place in the cosmos of things, Anika provides the wizened perspective of an outsider.